Lately I haven’t had the energy to write book reviews, but today I had the time to write down a few of the most recent books I have read. I have a written mini review of Leah on the Offbeat, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Bell Jar and A Thousand Perfect Notes.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Rating: 4/5 stars
Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this time in the perspective of Leah, Simon’s best friend. Leah is struggling with coming out as bisexual to her peers, and is finding it hard to accept that she is soon going away to college. This book actually doesn’t have a very clear, focused plot, and is instead more about Leah’s identity and interactions with her friends. There is a love interest, and it was one that I got a hint of straight away when I saw Love, Simon in the cinema.
I really enjoyed reading Leah on the Offbeat and especially adored the friendship Leah had with her friends. The only thing that bugged me about this book was Leah herself. At times, she was unreasonably mean, and her mean-spirit didn’t always seem justified. Aside from that, it was a fun read.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Rating: 2/5 stars
Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult novel about a boy named Clay who finds thirteen tapes narrated by his friend Hannah who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. The themes in this book are very serious and I believe that they were not handled very well. Although the novel spreads an anti-bullying message, Hannah comes across as spiteful in her actions, which paints a bad picture of those with mental health problems. I also think that it counteracts the anti-bullying message, as what Hannah does is harsh as well. The novel could have explored mental health further rather than making the character clearly struggling with depression to be doing it for attention by ensuring those who attributed to her suicide know that it was because of them.
Aside from those important problems I had with the book, something else that frustrated me was the narration style. As we read Clay listen to Hannah’s tapes, we also read about what’s he is doing and thinking. This got really confusing at times and I had to often reread the page because I wasn’t sure if it was Clay or Hannah speaking. However, what I did like about the novel was that it was well-plotted, as every storyline seemed to go well with the next. This made the novel more enjoyable to read because I could get a good sense of how each character in the tape related to Hannah and the rest of the characters.
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
A Thousand Perfect Notes follows a young boy, Beck, who is forced by his mother to become successful in playing the piano. His mother is abusive towards him, and his only respite is going to school, where he meets August, a cheery and energetic girl. So of course I read this book because I am a fan of Cait and her blog Paper Fury.
What I liked about this novel was that the story was interesting and kept me captivated. The interactions between Beck and August were cute and not boring or forced. However, the character of August seemed slightly off to me. She was practically perfect – everything about her was quirky, she never said anything stupid and always did the right thing for Beck. I just don’t think that a person like her exists in this world. I also found the dark content mixed with the fun, cheesy interactions between the friends to be a strange mix. One second the book was dark and then the next everything was happy. I just don’t think it worked well together.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is a classic book published in 1963 about a girl suffering from depression. The book was published just one month before the author committed suicide. It is a confronting, spectacularly written book that shows the inside of a woman’s head who is struggling to fit in with the norms of the time period.
Esther’s narration is compelling and believable, most likely in part due to the book being semi-autobiographical. Esther gets straight As in school but cannot shake the thought that soon she will have to get married like all of the other girls around her. She doesn’t want to; however, she is pressured by those around her and it looms over her conscience. The Bell Jar is simply a great book.
Have you read any of these books?